Paradoxology: An Introduction
“Paradoxology”, as you can probably tell, is a wordplay off of Paradox and Doxology. The idea here is that the most difficult paradoxes of our faith can lead us the deepest worship. Paradox leading to worship? How can that be?” G.K. Chesterton. in his book Orthodoxy gives us some provocative. yet insightful thoughts:
“The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid.” (20)
Now this exactly the claim which I have since come to propound for Christianity. Not merely that it deduces logical truths, but that when it suddenly becomes illogical, it has found, so to speak, an illogical truth. It not only goes right about things, but it goes wrong (if one may say so) exactly where the things go wrong. Its plan suits the secret irregularities, and expects the unexpected. It is simple about the simple truth but it is stubborn about the subtle truth…it is my only purpose in this chapter to point this out; to show that whenever we feel there is something odd in Christian theology, we shall generally find that there is something odd in the truth (75)
Chesterton acknowledges that there are paradoxes in the Christian faith; certain things are mysterious, even seemingly illogical. But he notices there is always something funny about biblical paradoxes–if you can humbly accept them, everything becomes wonderfully and beautifully clear; but if you try and explain them away, what’s left of your religion neither makes sense, nor inspires worship. Christianity says odd things, but they turn out to profoundly explain some of the most complex realities of our world.
Biblical paradoxes, in other words, do not prove that our faith is incoherent or absurd. It’s exactly the opposite. They give us some of the most powerful evidence that our faith is true. The wisdom of the world is polished, smooth, and logical. Yet, upon closer examination, these explanations are woefully inadequate to explain reality. The wisdom of God on first glance seems strange, even laughably contradictory–who in their right mind would think of something so odd?–but upon closer examination, it possesses divine beauty and truth. And in Chesterton’s words, when we allow some mystery, everything becomes marvellously and wonderfully clear. We are left in awe, saying, “We could never have thought of this. Truly, this is the Word of God. Glory be to his name”
For now (we’ll see if I can think of more paradoxes later), I plan to write first about the Trinity and afterwards, the sovereignty of God. I’ll be drawing most of the material for this series from two great books: Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves and The Sovereignty of God and Evangelism by J.I. Packer. These are some of the most important books I’ve read. They have not only helped me to better understand the Trinity and God’s sovereignty, they have also led me to deep thankful worship .
My hope is that through these series, you would realize we don’t have to uncomfortable or embarrassed with the paradoxes of our faith. Rather, we can respond as Paul did as he emerged from one of the densest, most difficult parts of Scripture at the end of Romans 11:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36 ESV)
Next post on its way soon!